In the first half of the season, Red Bull seemed to be betting more on aerodynamic improvements than its rival.
In almost every race they carried upgrade packages, no matter how small, while Mercedes remained on its usual path of development, making substantial improvements on a more occasional basis.
Red Bull Racing RB16B front wing detail
This represented another layer within the tactical battle, not only from a developmental point of view, but also from a psychological point of view. In fact, Lewis Hamilton he referenced his rival’s relentless progress on numerous occasions.
Nevertheless, Mercedes stood firm and it seemed like the package of new parts that led to the Grand Prix of Great Britain it would be his last big push for 2021.
However, eagle-eyed watchers have realized that perhaps Mercedes He hasn’t completely sidestepped the 2021 car, as the team used a revised front wing at the last two grands prix.
This is not a design concept of aileron Forward brand new, nor would it be expected to be, given the car design challenges for the upcoming year the teams are working on.
But the team does move in a direction seen elsewhere, with the inner and outer section of the upper wing elements redesigned to alter their proportion of importance between the two sections.
Mercedes W12 front wing comparison
The new design (inferior) presents a more loaded outer section (highlighted on verde), including a flap Gurney, while the trailing edge of the wing section has been trimmed near the adjuster.
This is important when we consider the setup and the new specification is likely to be used when Mercedes use a lighter downforce configuration, as it removes some of the available load, while promoting a greater washout effect on the static section of the wing. (The section of the wing that is outside the adjuster remains stationary, even when the wing is adjusted.)
The new specification was tested on the Friday of the last two race weekends, but no Sunday has yet been used. However, there is no doubt that it will reappear when the team reaches the United States Grand Prix and it may be something they decide to use in some of the lower aerodynamic demand events to come.
F1 aileron comparison
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The Mercedes drivers had to assess a different race strategy for Sunday as a consequence. Hamilton’s grid penalty for using the fourth combustion engine for the season.
As a result, the two silver arrows pilots used different aerodynamic settings to aid in the task. Contrary to his usual options, Bottas’ W12 was equipped with a rear wing of less load aerodynamics, with the front wing adjusted to that configuration, while the W12 from Hamilton featured a configuration of mayor load aerodynamics.
The larger size of the upper wing used on Hamilton’s car is offset by a much larger center V-groove and a deeper taper at the ends of the wing, reducing some of the drag that this part would otherwise generate.
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Red Bull He also opted for a different aerodynamic setup for his two riders, and Sergio perez was in charge of testing a lower load version on Friday.
The aileron rear used by the Mexican was still a spoon-shaped design, but featured less spoiler within the region of the allowed box and a design of the endplate more benign. However, he had a flap Gurney on the trailing edge of the top element to help balance the car.
After testing both options on Friday, the team made the decision to have both drivers carry the highest downforce for qualifying and the race, which was probably a relief given the weather on both days..
Red Bull Racing RB16B cockpit cooling
Red Bull applied a novel solution in regards to its cooling outlets located next to the rider with an outlet located behind the headrest.
The rest have an opening that forms further back when the Halo portion is pushed into the bodywork, or they have an interchangeable panel with louvers on it.
Each of these solutions is used to mitigate the aerodynamic impact of the hot air leaving that region on the general flow stream, also taking into account the requirements of the power unit.
It is not the first time that Red Bull has opted to use the exit on only one side of the car, further mitigating the aerodynamic impact, as it did with the open left zone in Turkey.
McLaren and Ferrari are also immersed in a battle of their own with only 7.5 points of difference between the two in the fight for third place in the Constructors’ championship.
The recent double of McLaren and their overall performance in recent races seem to have pushed them away a bit, but the power unit upgrade from Ferrari will undoubtedly make the SF21 be a serious contender in the final races of the season.
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Ferrari He also set up his cars differently so that his drivers could maximize their performance depending on their starting position: Sainz did it from the back of the grid due to his new engine, while Leclerc was expected to come out much later.
Like Mercedes, it opted to put a higher downforce setup on the car that ran further back on the grid, as the SF21’s Carlos Sainz It was equipped with a more conventional, higher-load rear wing.
Ferrari SF21 rear wing at the Spanish GP
For its part, Leclerc’s car had a scoop-shaped rear wing with less downforce, as the team wanted to make it faster on the straights, sacrificing some cornering performance.
Interestingly, both pilots had also tested the higher downforce arrangement, with the double T-Wing element, during free practice on Friday.
McLaren MCL35M rear wing at the Russian GP
McLaren opted to place both of its drivers in a higher downforce setup for the Turkish Grand Prix, having succeeded with that bet in Russia.
However, he quickly came to the conclusion that he would race without the double T-Wing arrangement, removing it from both cars after having evaluated it during the first free practice.